Walkie-Talkie Privacy Codes: The ULTIMATE Guide

Walkie-talkies aren’t safe.

That’s what the case in the past. But that has changed over time as there are many features placed to make the communication channel more secure.

If you got a two-way radio or looked to buy one, you’ve come to hear the terms:

Walkie-talkie privacy codes for private channels.

So, what’s that all about?

If you want to know how the walkie-talkie works to make the transmissions secure, you’ve come to the right place.

Just keep on reading.

What Makes Private Channels?

Walkie-Talkie Privacy Codes

The first thing you might be thinking, how do you get private channels. To be honest, there is nothing called private channels on radios.

It is a common misconception that most newbies have about the device. When a walkie-talkie mentions private channels, it means a specific code that lets you tune into a signal.

Let me describe it for you.

Private Channels – A Myth

Imagine you’ve got a radio. If you know your stuff, then you should know that FCC assigns limited channel frequencies for use. So, anyone can use the channels, and anyone can listen to anyone—not ideal.

But that’s the case as radios are always receiving.

To solve that, privacy codes like CTCSS and DCS got introduced.  What they do is that they set a system in place where specific codes get sent to a receiver to accept the signal. The receiver got that code already set in their device. If you aren’t transmitting using the same channel and code, it won’t get received.

The receiver will be quiet.

Therefore, you won’t have to listen to unwanted transmissions. At the same time, you can make sure no one listens to your signals. But it doesn’t make conversations private. Anyone having the same frequency with the privacy code set on their device can catch it.

However, it makes it hard for others to interpret the talks as there are many combinations to go through.

What Are Privacy Codes In Walkie-Talkie?

So, you know the privacy codes are there to make it harder for others to interfere with the calls. But what are privacy codes actually?

Privacy codes in walkie-talkie is usually an inaudible tone that gets sent with the transmission. Think of it as an attachment sent with the message to route it through the right location.

Now, the receiver has a filtering system for transmission coming to it. There it looks for the privacy code with the message. The ones that got it will get to the device; others won’t.

Type of Privacy Codes:

Now, there are many types of privacy codes available in the walkie-talkie. It depends on what model you’ve. For instance, most big players like Baofeng, Motorola, Midland have multiple ones to give you more channels to get an interference-free line.

Let’s quickly take a tour of the privacy coded options you’ve got:

CTCSS: Continuous Tone-Coded Squelch System. That’s the one I’ve talked about a moment ago that uses the audio tone to give a private talking channel.

DCS: Digital Code Squelch is similar to CTCSS. However, you get a more extensive range to pick from, making it less likely to have overlap in stations.

There you’ve got the others like QuietTalk/Digital QuietTalk (QT/DQT), Private Line (PL), Sub-channels. The functionalities they offer are similar, but different brands use different names. But privacy code is something that gets used by all.

How Does Privacy Code Work?

By now, you’ve got some basic idea of how the privacy code action takes place in communication in the walkie-talkie. But let’s look at in more detail to make this clear to you.

Let’s say you’re trying to connect with a radio. You’re the one who will be sending the message, and the other person will receive it.

Now, as you know, the typical walkie-talkie with FRS and GMRS will give you around 22 channels. Without the privacy codes, you’ve got only those to work with, which can be frustrating as the lines will probably be occupied most of the time.

What’s the solution?

That’s right, the privacy codes. With them, you will get more channels. For instance, if your radio comes with 150 privacy codes, you will multiply that by the number of FRS/GMRS channels your radio got.

In this case, you’ve got 3300 frequencies. Now, pick a particular combination. Let’s say you’ve selected a channel 5 with privacy code 2. The receiver also got that set in their device. When you send it, the person’s device will look for the attachment in its filtering system. If it finds it, then the radio will un-mute and let your message get heard. Or if it can’t see, then there will be silence.

That’s it.

Do Privacy Codes Give You Any Actual Privacy?

I gave you a hint about it earlier. And the answer is “NO” if you’re thinking of getting channels that no one can listen to.

However, with the large number of privacy codes disposed to you, you can have more options. Take the last example. You’ve got 3300 different frequencies to use. The possibility of overlapping on the channel you’re using is less likely than just using the 22 channels that the FRS/GMRS has to offer.

Therefore, the more combinations you’ve got, the better as there are less interference.

Also Read: Walkie-Talkie VOX – A Hidden Gem in Modern 2-Way Radios


Are walkie-talkies private?

No, they aren’t, and never they have been. However, some features make it hard for others to get on the broadcast signal you’re using.

Can walkie-talkie pick up police signals?

With your regular FRS/GMRS radio, that isn’t possible. However, there are specific radio called police scanners that can let you listen to the frequency. If you’re interested in that, you can check out the best police scanners from here.

Can walkie-talkie be traced?

Just like your smartphone, they can be tracked too. But it is harder to do as communication takes for seconds on the radio. So, they aren’t that easy to follow.

Wrap Up

Want to know more about walkie-talkies? Ask us anything or look through our contents; hopefully, you will get all the answers.

Also read: Walkie Talkie Etiquette: 10 Important Things You Should Know

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